The Grand Finale

Hello Everyone,

As you can most likely tell from the title, the airstream is officially done! When we last left you, the trailer was getting its paint job. Once everything was finished and all the paint dried, we took our trailer to get our vinyl logos applied. We could wax poetic all day to you about how awesome the finished product is, but instead, we’ll keep this short and sweet and let the pictures do the most of the talking. Enjoy.

 

 

So, in summary, we were able to turn this:

 

Into this:

 

A big thank you goes out to everyone who made this whole project possible — from Doug and Clare Barr, the plumbers, painters, and everybody else who helped build the trailer to all of you blog readers, investors, family, and friends out there who assured us that this project was in fact a good idea. If any of you are ever in the Bay Area, keep an eye out for our trailer trucking down the road and shoot us a line if you ever want an office tour in person. We are also in the process of making a video about the airstream starring Wilson and myself, which we will get out to everyone as soon as it is finished.

Now, like any good grand finale, we end with a bang. Drum-roll please….. The airstream officially has a name, and that name is Rosie. She is named after Rosie the Riveter due to the absurd number of rivets scattered all over this trailer. We also figured that the name Rosie fit with the red paint job (red like a rose, get it?). With Rosie’s new name in mind, we hope you enjoyed this extreme makeover as we turned a girl who was a bit rough around the edges and perhaps a little too vintage into the lovely, elegant woman/trailer you see today (what a metaphor).

Thank you so much for reading though all of our ramblings. This was the first of many fun and exciting projects by W.G. Barr Beverage Company, so stay tuned for any further adventures.

Exterior Paint

The Airstream has been at the paint shop for a few weeks now and should be completed any day now. We thought we’d give you a quick update by sharing a few photos sent over by the painter. More to come soon. Enjoy!

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Finishing Touches!

Things have been busy around here, but Tommy and I thought we’d give you a brief update on the Airstream. We completed the interior, save a few minor finishing touches – we still need to do a bit of touch up painting and add some cabinet latches so everything stay secure when we’re on the road. We were able to put together our new office chairs, re-screen the interior ceiling vents, and test everything to make sure it works! We spent a miserable couple of hours baking in the sun on the roof of the Airstream replacing old metal vent covers with new translucent ones that will let in light. We also had the old non-functioning 1970’s A/C unit removed and replaced with a new 15,000BTU workhorse that will keep the inside of our trailer colder than the Arctic circle. Finally, on Friday we hooked the Airstream up to the car for the first time in three months and towed it to an auto body shop in Vacaville, CA, where it will the exterior will be stripped, sanded, primed, painted, and adorned with our logos. Two weeks from now, our Airstream office will be ready to bring to San Francisco! Stay tuned for final interior and exterior photos, as well as a video tour!

 

old roof vent:

new roof vent

 

 

Off to the Paint Shop!

 

Lots of paint options:

The Beginning of the End

Over these past few weeks, our still nickname-less airstream trailer (suggestions for a good name are more than welcome in the comments) has gone from a work in progress to a borderline finished product. This blog post comes after a considerable delay compared to some of the earlier ones, because, as we have found out, if you want to put some nice finishing touches on a project like this, you need to hire out most of the work to people who actually have discernible skills. Basically, Wilson and myself parading around with hammers and rivet guns are of little to no help at this point. That being said, the difference made by this injection of skilled labor is immediately noticeable, as you will see in the pictures. Long story short, our trailer is looking niiiice.

 

When you last heard from us, Doug Barr, our handyman extraordinaire, had just finished the cabinets that run along the length of the trailer. Unfortunately for him, there was no rest for the weary, as he immediately got back to work constructing one last cabinet shown above to cover up our water tank and pump. Once Doug was done with his fine work, we finished up the cabinet with two coats of our trusty “Whisper White” paint.

 

Early on in the airstream remodeling process, Wilson and I decided that we wanted to paint some part of our trailer with chalkboard paint to allow people to express themselves and leave a little message for us when they visited our office. After much deliberation, the inside of the bathroom walls was picked to be our chalkboard surface. While Wilson and I have become experts at painting things a shade of off-white, we thought chalkboard paint was a bit out of our league, and we turned the task over  to our in-house painter Clare Barr (a family that remodels an airstream together stays together). She even came up with a great pun, shown above.

 

Once all of the cabinets were completed, it was time to put in the flooring. We opted for a cork floor because it is relatively inexpensive, light (we don’t want the trailer to get too heavy for towing purposes), durable, and aesthetically pleasing. As you can see yourself, putting the flooring in made the whole trailer look approximately 100 times better.

 

With the flooring done, the counter tops were next on the to do list. Since the start of this project, we wanted to have some sort of metal counter tops to give our interior a sleek feel that ties in with the aluminum airstream dynamic while giving us a durable and clean workspace. Unfortunately, solid metal counter tops are heavy and expensive, and therefore pretty impractical. So, instead, we ordered large, thin zinc sheets and hired someone to bend the metal around our thick plywood counter tops. To clear up any confusion you might have from these pictures, the zinc is not actually blue, but is just currently wrapped in a plastic protective coating until we cover it with sealant.

 

Following the completion and installation of the counter tops, we called up the plumber to install our sinks, toilet, and beer tap. As you can see above, the process went swimmingly.

 

Above are some more shots of our beer tap, starting with a look at the hoses running inside our cabinets, followed by a pic of our CO2 regulator, and finally a shot of the beer tap itself. As you can probably tell/would expect, this is most likely our favorite feature of the trailer.

 

I have always heard that it is important to finish off any piece of writing with a dynamite conclusion because that is the last thing the reader will see. That being said, here are some pictures of the broken waste valve we replaced for you to enjoy.

 

I hope you all enjoyed this update on our airstream remodeling exploits. We are getting pretty close to having the trailer fully operational, so keep your eyes peeled for a new blog post in the next few weeks detailing our maiden voyage with our new office in tow.

Starting to look Gooood

When we last left you, our airstream/office had really started taking shape. The walls had been painted, the cabinets were under construction, and our dreams were becoming a reality. With all of this positive energy, Wilson and I could not wait to get back to work on our favorite work project.

 

First, Wilson, our resident electrician, finished up all of the wiring in the trailer and installed all of our lights. These lights are LEDs so they use little electricity and look super suave (that’s both function and fashion).

 

Next, we got to work finishing up the cabinets and counters. Once we finished building, we installed a few drawers that will house our pint glasses and printer among other things and drilled holes in the counter tops for the the sinks and to conceal loose wires. At this point, there are only two steps left in completing both cabinets — we need to attach the cabinet doors and we are going to wrap the wood counter tops in zinc to give them a sleek, metallic feel. We would be remiss to not mention the help we received from Doug Barr, pictured above, who is a carpenter extraordinaire and was the brains behind this whole operation.

 

With Doug’s help, we were able to turn this above…

Into this.

 

While Doug was hard at work on the cabinets, Wilson and I decided to work on the necessary amenities of the trailer — the mounted TV on the wall and the keg refrigerator (aka kegerator) and tap. Unfortunately, we goofed and only took pictures of the least fun elements of these two fun things. That being said, I hope you enjoyed the pics of the TV mount and the CO2 container.

 

Some other fun goodies are the new electrical outlets and the recently installed electric heater mounted into the wall of the cabinet.

 

After the cabinets were completed, Wilson and I painted them the same “whisper white” as our walls. If you have never had to paint something like a cabinet with a bunch of nooks and crannies, it is a painstaking and annoying process. If you have, then we feel your pain. However, once we had finished putting on the second coat of paint, it was easy to see that it was all worth it.

 

Once the cabinets had been finished, Doug turned his attention to the bathroom walls and sliding door. As you can see above, the door and walls look amazing. After weeks of hard work on this airstream, it seems that our effort is paying off as the trailer continues to look more and more like the office space and marketing tool that we imagined when we hatched this crazy plan a few months ago. Keep checking into the blog in the coming weeks as we put the finishing touches up on airstream and hopefully get this guy out on the road.

 

Hey look! Wilson’s first picture! Unfortunately for him…

This is what the people came to see.

Plumbing, Cabinets, and Paint

Tommy and I were back at work on the trailer soon after returning from our 10 day jaunt to the East Coast. Once the trailer was completely gutted and we settled on construction plans, we were able to start the remodel process. First we removed all of the out of date copper plumbing lines and replaced them with all new flexible piping. We also installed a brand new 6 gallon electric water heater that should provide more than enough hot water for our two sinks. In order to free up space for the beer tap, refrigerator, and CO2 tank, we decided we’d put the new water heater underneath the bathroom sink, rather than inside the kitchen cabinets where the old one stood.

Next, we built the new bathroom cabinet in the back left corner of the trailer. It takes up far less room than the original, its constructed from plywood rather than fiberboard, and has plenty of room underneath for the original 12 volt converter. A new white ceramic vessel sink will go on top.

Once the bathroom cabinet was finished, we started building the cabinets that will go along the left wall of the trailer in the main work area. The cabinets will house a pull out printer drawer, a large stainless steel sink, a refrigerator, and a beer tap.

 

Since trailers tend to be dark and we wanted a bright workspace, we decided to paint the interior walls a nice warm white all the way around. Before applying the paint, we had to scrub the grimy walls with an industrial cleaning solution, sand away rough patches, fill a bajillion holes with new rivets, and apply a special vinyl/plastic bonding primer. These steps took much longer than expected and we ended up spending a few days purely on prep. Once the walls were finally ready, we put on two coats of thick “whisper white” paint. It makes a huuuuuuuggggeee difference!

Finally, we replaced the 4 old speakers with new ones and salvaged the retro battery charge indicator. Next week, we’ll continue construction of the cabinets, put up the bathroom walls and sliding door, and install the lights.

Gutting the Interior

We spent three full days completely gutting the interior of the Airstream. We had planned on keeping a few of the original elements – the front couch, the bathrooms walls, the bathroom sink – but once we started ripping things out, we realized it would be better to start the remodel process with a completely clean slate. First we removed everything on the curbside wall, including the non-functioning behemoth propane/electric fridge.

The wall behind the fridge was caked in thirty-five years of dirt and propane lines stuck out through holes in the floor. Getting all of that out proved challenging.

Next, we ripped out the front couch, only to find that it had been covering a large fresh water tank that ran the width of the trailer. Since we need fresh water and can’t move the tank we decided that we’d build a shelf over it.

We then proceeded to rip out the cabinetry along the right wall of the trailer, underneath which we found an old propane furnace, heating ventilation system, and hot water heater. We decided our best option was to trash it all and install a new electric wall heater and a small 6-gallon hot water heater. By ditching everything in the trailer that operated off propane, we can now remove the tanks on the front tongue. The old oven/stove top was in excellent shape and should be worth a few hundred dollars on Craigslist.

Airstream used a seemingly random combination of rivets and screws to keep everything together, so we were forced to become experts in the art of de-riveting, a painstaking process that requires drilling out the head of the rivet and finagling it from its hole. Here is a picture of a rivet, if you don’t know what one looks like.

The last bit of demolition was the bathroom. Tommy spent a looooong time de-riveting and carefully removing the bathroom divider panels so that we could use their curved shape as a reference for the new plywood walls that will replace them. Then we took out the shower pan and plugged the drain, removed the sink, cabinets, and closet that housed the trailer’s power inverter, battery, and plumbing. The toilet was the last thing to be removed, although we do plan on cleaning it and reinstalling it.

Once the entire trailer had been gutted, we patched a few areas of rotten floor with new plywood and cut holes in the ceiling for 16 new low-power LED recessed lights. Since we will be doing work in the trailer, we wanted to make sure it would be brightly lit. Unfortunately, we had to remove the center ceiling panel in order to run the wiring for the new lights, leaving us covered in fiberglass from the old ceiling insulation.

We also replaced the original defunct 8-track player with a new Bluetooth-enabled CD player. Next week we’ll clean the interior, paint the walls, and begin building new cabinetry.

 

Plans

Quick update, as we get to work on the trailer…here is a basic drawing of how we plan to remodel the inside of the trailer (click to make it bigger):

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Some of the items included already exist in the trailer, but most of it will be new. We will put in a long desk along the curbside wall and build custom cabinetry and countertop along the opposite wall. Both countertops will be covered in zinc sheeting. Since custom built cabinetry is a bit above me and Tommy’s pay grade, we’re going to enlist my dad to help us with the construction. We also plan to put in new speakers, new LED energy efficient overhead lighting, a wall mounted LCD screen, a new kitchen sink and faucet, a dual beer tap, and an under counter refrigerator.

The next big decision is whether or not to gut the bathroom and start fresh. Completely remodeling it would be great, but could also be pricey – has anyone seen the outrageous price of faucets and sinks these days!?!? Removing the old shower and shower pan could create issues as well. We’ll let you know what we decide.

And So It Begins…

After hours of scouring Craigslist ads from California to South Dakota, Tommy and I finally took the plunge and bought an Airstream trailer. Airstreams have always been popular and timeless, but in recent years they’ve become all the rage. Architects, designers, and other talented hipster-types buy vintage airstreams, gut them, and turn them into Sunset Magazine-worthy pieces of art. As a result, when well-maintained Airstream pop up for sale at a decent price, they often sell within hours. We happened to get lucky and see the ad for our trailer soon after it was posted, but no less than 9 other interested buyers inquired in the time it took for us to go take a look in person.

There are a few reasons why we decided to convert an Airstream rather than rent a conventional office space:

1. Office space in San Francisco is ridiculously expensive. Even the crappiest, smallest hole-in-the-wall space is between $1200-$1800 per month plus utilities. An Airstream is an up front investment of $3500 for the trailer + ~$4000 for the remodel. After a few months, it will have paid for itself.

2. An airstream office is free advertising. Everyone that sees our beautiful logo-adorned Airstream is going to be exposed to our brand. We even plan to park the trailer near major events (ball games, concerts, etc.) for free advertising to a lot of people. Plus, I can almost guarantee some free press if we play our cards right.

3. We plan to use the Airstream for other stuff too…We’re going to put a beer tap and refrigerator in so we can do tastings and beverage events in the future.

4. The airstream is a company asset. Airstreams retain value more than almost any other type of vehicle. If we ever decide to sell it, we will likely make a profit.

5. Its way more fun than a regular office. We have to unleash our creativity to stand out in San Francisco!

The trailer itself is a 1975 24-foot Airstream Argosy. We wanted something that was short enough to tow without having experience as a big-rig driver (read: under ~26ft) yet long enough that two tall entrepreneurs could get work done comfortably without feeling like canned sardines. The dimensions of this trailer were perfect. We bought it from a middle-aged man in Salinas, CA who had primarily used the trailer for camping. He maintained it well over the years and had even bought a few era-specific decorative items (old polaroids, 8-tracks, etc.) to put on display inside. The interior is all original, including the matching avocado colored shag carpet, countertops, and mini vacuum cleaner! It has a refrigerator (not working), a stove/oven, kitchen sink, A/C, heater, two gauchos (one in the front and one in the middle) that fold into double beds, and ample storage space. The rear bathroom has a toilet, sink, and working shower. All of the interior lights are functional, there are no visible leaks, and everything is remarkably clean, leading us to believe we got a pretty good deal! Hopefully our spirits remain high after we begin the remodel process, explore all of the hidden enclosures, and rip up the carpet!

The exterior was painted an odd bronze color by a previous owner, which is somewhat unsurprising considering it is a product of the 1970’s. We will definitely be repainting it a new base color and we plan to add company logos as well. We were thinking half silver, half matte black with red logos on top…what do you all think? See the photo of the “Aether” airstream below for inspiration. We’ve included a few iPhone images of the trailer in its current state – forgive the terrible quality and sideways orientation…we’ll add better pictures soon. We can’t wait to start the remodel process and we’re excited to share our progress on this blog. Check back every few days to see what we’re up to!

-Wilson